Baselworld organizers are left counting the cost - predicted to run into millions - following a sophisticated raid by a criminal organization dubbed the Verticalscoop Gang. They are believed to be responsible for a series of daring heists conducted at several major watch shows throughout North America, Europe, the Middle and Far East.

The Verticalscoop Gang from left to right: 'Tania', 'Anthony', 'Chris', 'Derek' and 'Jordan'

Passing themselves off as media representatives for a major online forum company, they organize meetings at key venues including the biggest of them all - Baselworld - deceiving several leading luxury Swiss and Japanese watch brands such as Omega, Patek Philippe, Chopard and Grand Seiko into inspecting their new novelties. Employing guile and polished diversionary tactics, they simply walk out of each meeting having pocketed watches worth tens of thousands of dollars.

'Razor sharp'

"These people knew exactly what they were looking for at their carefully targeted meetings." said an emotional Baselworld spokesman. "Each of them is a razor sharp confidence trickster skilled in diverting the attention of already tired and overworked PR executives while pretending to examine or photograph high-value watches."

Dramatic reconstruction: The Verticalscoop Gang passed through tight security like this with alarming ease

Although security is super tight at Baselworld, with identity cards requiring to be checked both in and out of every venue, nothing can prepare a brand for a sophisticated gang that has the necessary passes to enter their stands, and appear to be charming and honest business people.

The Verticalscoop Gang - whose true identities are still not known to Interpol investigators - change their names and their looks for each and every venue they hit. At Baselworld they were known as 'Tania', 'Anthony', 'Chris', 'Derek' and 'Jordan'.

'Foxy lady'

"While we don't know their true identities, we do know the role each gang member plays."explained Stefan Bossoulier, a senior Interpol detective investigating the case.

"The foxy lady who went by the name of 'Tania' is used to distract male brand representatives with compliments, the promise of big Tweets, long legs and short skirts, while cameraman 'Anthony' appears to be busy taking photographs. In reality an ingenious device inside the camera instantly snatches the watch into its hollow casing."

Dramatic reconstruction: How 'Tania' may have looked during steamy meetings with top watch brands

In other meetings 'Jordan', a muscled charmer with a Navy SEALS style military haircut and expensively tailored suits, skillfully averted the attention of adoring female PR reps, while silky smooth operator 'Derek,' - a Hong Kong born Chinese martial arts expert - swept watches into a Louis Vuitton back pack. 'Derek' then brazenly messaged accomplices during meetings to come and collect the haul before coolly going on to other appointments.

Dramatic reconstruction: How 'Derek' may have looked carrying his Louis Vuitton back pack loaded with valuable watches


But perhaps the most cynical deception was employed by the gang member known as 'Chris'.

"With his flowing brown locks and neatly trimmed beard, his angelic looks and deep brown eyes, female brand reps of a Christian persuasion believed they were encountering ***** Himself." explained Stefan Bossoulier.

"One female marketing director is still convinced he went by the name of 'Christ', while another went so far as to beg for a miracle. Of course there are no body searches before or after press members enter or leave a venue, and this is how they manage to simply walk away each time. Their success in itself is nothing short of a minor miracle."

'Pina Coladas'

In another incident, a major watch and jewelry supremo has tendered his resignation after reporting the loss of a priceless top of the line corporate timekeeper. He willingly took the watch from off his own wrist after promises by 'Chris' that he would send him pictures of the $450,000 timepiece in "ways he could never imagine."

Dramatic reconstruction: A top executive gets ready to hand his watch over to the gang member known as 'Chris'

"I got the pictures all right" said the visibly distressed former watch and jewelry boss: "Pictures of my watch on his wrist while sipping Pina Coladas."


Former US Air Force veteran, Watchuseek Administrator Brad Bokkean, whose job entails protecting Watchuseek members from fraudulent watch salesmen, commented: "Gee, I was completely fooled, and that don't happen very often. No Sir."

As to the gang's whereabouts, police are still searching for clues. "They could be in Basel, or they could just as easily be in Brazil."It is judged unlikely the gang are still hiding in their operational base of Mulhouse.

Dramatic reconstruction: A trained parachutist demonstrates how the gang arrive at venues incognito

The high flying bandits earned the name the 'Verticalscoop Gang' due to their dare devil method of arriving at targeted venues via parachute from their own luxury G650 Extended Range Gulfstream jet.


A Swiss brand executive, who declined to be identified, said: "I have an ear for accents, and I believe they may be Canadian. I overheard one gang member say to another, 'isn't it aboot time you grew up' to which the other replied 'isn't it aboot time you got another haircut.'

The gang also literally left behind another mystery that has baffled detectives scratching their heads. Despite having ample opportunity to do so during their appointment, they did not pocket any of the many new Hublot watches on display.

When questioned Monsieur Bossoulier of Interpol remarked: "We can only conclude they are not fans of Hublot."

It is speculated that the incident could tear a gaping hole in the credibility of Baselworld. Police are looking into it.